Although the lack of progress towards disarmament, rising proliferation risks in the Middle East and East Asia, and the seeming collapse of bilateral arms control set a gloomy stage for the coming review cycle, hope should not be lost. The momentum created during RevCon and willingness of states to negotiate should be carried forward into PrepCom. Moreover, the formation of a working group to strengthen the NPT review process, along with regional consultations and other small group discussions, could provide the basis for future breakthroughs.
To this end, the group provided recommendations to improve the process and address the pressing challenges that the NPT now faces. The group’s most substantive recommendations related to opportunities for the working group to strengthen the review process, focusing specifically on the review process’ format, its accountability and transparency, and inclusivity.
Participants discussed the future format of the review process and developed ideas for changes to increase efficiency. One recommendation was to permanently remove the gap year so review cycles occur on a four your cycle, which would allow for continuous engagement. Participants also suggested that PrepComs be thematic and address a specific pillar each meeting. Many participants acknowledged that the current review process results in a high degree of redundancy and leaves too little time for the discussion of substantive issues. To ameliorate these issues, some participants suggested that states could submit national statements ahead of the meeting and use convening time for substantive negotiations. Finally, participants discussed the need for consensus and how to address the challenge of achieving a consensus final document. While participants did not have simple solutions to this challenge, many agreed that states parties should rethink the expected outcome format of RevCon.
Transparency and accountability
Participants noted that there is wide variation in the degree to which States Parties report, and that current mechanisms for the reporting of benchmarks are insufficient. To address this shortcoming, some participants suggested exploring ways to structure the P5 dialogue beyond a common reporting form. Participants also suggested circulating reports beforehand and dedicate more convening time to the discussion of reports during the review cycle, Participants also suggested broadening the conversation on benchmarking, specifically on reporting requirements.
Participants discussed the long-standing need to expand inclusivity in the review process. To do so, the NPT President must conduct more frequent regional consultations. In addition, smaller delegations will require further financial support to facilitate their full and equal involvement. As the 11th review process commences, participants called for efforts to sustain and improve continuity of knowledge regarding non-proliferation and the NPT. This could be done by engaging academic or civil society experts throughout the review process, either through commissioning papers or educational side events. Maintaining the knowledge base will also entail teaching the next generation of diplomats how to engage with their peers on these issues and how the NPT review process works.
Suzanne Claeys and Lachlan MacKenzie
Wilton Park | October 2023
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